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Let the cookie sales begin

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COOKIES: Timia Collins picks up a plate of cookies to taste each one and vote on her favorite.
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TWIST: Ruby Chitwood of troop 3267 plays “cookie twister” at the cookie rally. Chitwood was her troop’s top seller last year.

BY HEATHER COX - hcox@chronicle-tribune.com

Girl Scout cookie sales officially begin today in Northern Indiana, and Grant County troops kicked it off with a cookie rally Friday night.

Troops had the chance to attend the Clarence Faulkner Center for various stations to get the girls energized and ready to sell. Christina Kaufman, troop leader of 3252 and service unit treasurer, compared the cookie rally to a pep rally to get everything launched for cookie season.

Troop leader for 3253, Stephanie Seward, put the event together this year. She said attendees were able to enter for door prizes, taste and vote on the best Girl Scout cookies, play cookie jeopardy – where they learned about selling safety and fun facts about the cookies – and work on two crafts and take some pictures in a photobooth full of prizes they could earn from selling.

The energy was high and Kaufman said her girls are definitely excited to get started.

She explained the goal of cookie season isn’t just to sell cookies. It’s really about learning how to run your own business, which Kaufman said is essentially what they’re doing by taking part in cookie sales.

There are five steps the girls must learn during the process, one of which is how to manage their money. With each box sold, some of the money goes back to the area’s council and gets divied up to help the girls that otherwise couldn’t afford to participate in Girl Scouts or the activities that come along with participation. The rest of the money is up for the troop to decide what to do with.

“Last year, my girls took their cookie money that they had leftover and they went to the zoo to learn about the animals,” Kaufman said. “They wanted to do a fun trip and wanted to go to two movies, and they just thought that it was the greatest thing ever because they were able to pick whatever they wanted. And at Christmas they did Toys for Tots and donated to the Humane Society.”

Other troops save their money up for trips as big as taking a cruise together.

Tami Osborn, service unit manager and service unit cookie manager, said her daughter was able to visit Marian College for a week to get a hands-on look at its medical programs. Osborn said the troop is planning on saving up to go on a trip next year as far as Maine or Louisiana.

Each girl and each troop sets their own goals for the season. Kaufman said her daughter is aiming to sell at least 1,500 boxes again this year, because 1,500 earns them a trip to a show at Beef and Boards with a guest – this year to see The Little Mermaid.

Boxes in this region have gone up in price to $5 per box, which could potentially create some competition, since the council located just above Grant County hasn’t chosen to go up in prices quite yet. However, Kaufman and Osborn said the money earned really does make a difference in helping girls who can’t afford to participate.

Troops in Grant County have also grown exponentially. Osborn said last year they had nine selling troops and this year they’re up to 20-22 selling troops.

While Grant County residents can expect to start hearing about sales starting today, Osborn said cookie booths will start opening up around the county on Feb. 7. She added that National Girl Scout Cookie Day weekend will take place during the last weekend in February.

Girls who participate in the weekend by selling at a cookie booth can take a picture and submit it to earn another patch.

The cookie selling season will end on March 17, but Osborn said some troops may still sell some boxes passed that date to get rid of remaining boxes.